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“Did I ever tell you a horse once tried to eat Mom’s car?” David asked.
“C’mon, my love!” Rosemary laughed. “I may not know much about ranching, but I don’t buy that. Horses eat grass, and hay and oats. I’ve even seen them nibble on fence rails, too, but not cars!”
It was spring and the young couple was celebrating their first wedding anniversary. David and Rosemary were on horeback, stopped on a rise overlooking a herd of cows tending their newborn calves.
David didn’t know it at that moment, but within minutes he would be in for the biggest surprise of his life.
The calving season was ending, and David had taken Rosemary to a calving-out pasture. He wanted to show her how groups of cows would take turns caring for each others’ newborn calves, allowing the rest of the bovine mothers to graze or to get a drink of water at a nearby creek.
Shortly after they were married, David and Rosemary moved to a ranch his family had owned for generations. David’s parents asked them to manage the sprawling 5,600-acre ranch were he’d grown up.
The couple happily agreed.
Rosemary was a petite 24-year-old city girl but loved the outdoors. She was apprehensive at first about leaving friends and the urban comforts she had enjoyed. But Rosemary was drawn both by her love for her 25-year-old life mate, and by her love of Nature and the outdoors. She focused immediately on becoming a full working partner with her tall, handsome husband.
Rosemary found the car-eating story farfetched, and now she wasn’t about to believe the babysitting yarn, either.
“That’s the truth, my love,” he laughed. “A horse really did nibble on Mom’s car. One winter evening when I was young, Mom drove home in a whiteout. Dad was away. Her car went off the road in the blizzard and ended up in a corral near our front yard.
“The car got stuck and she had to leave it. Mom didn’t know that a few horses were waiting out the storm in a lean-to beside the corral. When she came out the next morning one of the horses, and maybe more, had been nibbling away at the car’s bumpers and moldings and the side mirrors. Cost us a few thousand dollars to get it fixed.”
“Come on, David!” Rosemary exclaimed. “I’m not that gullible.”
“It’s true, my beautiful bride,” David said smugly. “Turns out the horses were pregnant mares and had been nibbling at road salt on the car to get minerals their bodies were craving. Their strong teeth did the damage.”
Rosemary reluctantly accepted the truth of her husband’s unusual story.
“Hey, look over there!” David said, pointing down into the lush green valley. “There must be 20 or 30 calves. And look, only a few cows with them. Right?”
Rosemary had to admit the scene David described was accurate. She smiled at the sight of the adorable little calves, most of them lying in the fresh spring grass. Four cows accompanied them.
“Want to guess where the other cows are?” he asked, turning his horse toward her. She could see there was a twinkle in his eye.
“Want to bet they’ve gone to the creek for water?” he asked. “Their babies are being looked after by those babysitters. The cows take turns.
“Yes, really!” David insisted, seeing the disbelief in Rosemary’s beautiful hazel green eyes. “When the other mothers come back, the babysitters will take their turn to go for water, or go grazing.”
“Well now, isn’t that something,” Rosemary said, interrupting him. Her gaze was focused on the valley behind her handsome husband.
As David was speaking, her attention had been drawn to a string of cows emerging from behind a grove of trees. The cows were walking slowly single file along a path leading from a creek back to where their babies were waiting.
As the cows drew closer, the calves scrambled to their feet. Some jumped up and down, and pranced around like exuberant children on a playground. Others raced to the arriving cows and tried to start nursing from their mother’s milk-laden udders while they walked.
Rosemary was looking forward to becoming a mother. As she watched the cows and calves, she wondered if she could ever trust anyone to look after her babies once she became a mother.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that animals are dumb,” David continued, blissfully unaware of Rosemary’s thoughts.
“Most animals are far more intelligent than we give them credit. They draw that wisdom from Nature. And Nature’s really got it figured. Sadly, most folks don’t get it.”
“David.” Rosemary broke into his thoughts. “Do you remember right after we were married, you took me to Livingston Valley up in the mountains?”
“I sure do, love,” he replied with a wistful smile.
“We stretched out naked under the trees after a dip in the pond,” he chuckled. The thought stirred his desire.
“Oh yes, I sure do remember!” he added enthusiastically. “Were we watching Nature do her thing? Or was Nature watching us do our thing? We should go back soon!”
“Oh, yes, David,” Rosemary said. “I’ve been thinking what a profound experience in Nature we shared that day. Really spiritual.”
“I wasn’t thinking of the ‘spiritual’ part of the experience, exactly,” David chuckled with an adoring smile, winking at her as he reached for her hand.
“I’ve written something,” Rosemary said, gently declining his affectionate advances. “I want you to have this, to celebrate our first anniversary.”
David was proud of Rosemary’s blossoming career as a writer. He was often more enthusiastic about it than her. They’d met in grad school while Rosemary was finishing a graduate degree in fine arts. He was finishing a master’s in business administration.
Rosemary leaned over from her saddle and kissed him warmly.
Then she handed him an envelope. He opened it and removed a sheet of paper. It read:
My Dear Husband
When we first began dating I was uncertain whether this city girl could have a life with a country boy like you. Then you shared with me the extraordinary insights about Nature that came to you in the wilderness while you were herding cattle. What you shared with me set my mind at ease but also challenged me.
As you know, my grandmother is of the First Nations people. I went to see her and asked her counsel. She helped me realize that you and I have come to hold a reverence for Nature, each in our own way yet both similar to that embraced by Grandma’s people for thousands of years.
She helped me to understand how blessed we are by that knowledge. And now you and I have been blessed again by Nature. I Love You,
PS: We’re pregnant. Happy Anniversary, Daddy!
David’s face lit up with an enormous smile. He nudged his horse around until he was beside Rosemary. He reached over, tenderly holding her close, and gave her a long passionate kiss.
“No one has ever received such a wonderful anniversary gift, or been so honored to have such an awesome bride,” he managed to say, his voice choked with the emotions that welled up inside.
“Can I ask you something?” David asked his radiant wife as he regained his composure. “Do you want to know whether the baby is a boy or a girl?”
“No,” she replied immediately. “All I want is for our baby to be healthy. That is more than enough to wish for. Besides, I like surprises.
“Got any other surprises in mind, cowboy?” she added.
“It might not be a surprise,” he replied, “But I think I can come up with something at home.”
“You sure?” Rosemary smiled, her excitement rising as she thought about how they might be spending the next few hours.
She turned her horse and dug her heels into the flanks of her favored quarter horse, urging it into a gallop.
I might not know much about ranching just yet, she thought, but Grandma taught me how to ride like the wind!
The shadows were getting long as they raced their horses back home. They unsaddled quickly and cooled the horses, and then made sure the animals had adequate supplies of food and water.
No one saw David and Rosemary again until very late the next morning.
“Motherhood… A Few Surprises” is Copyright © 2017 By James Osborne. All Rights Reserved.
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